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Conor McGregor delivers wake-up call to quarantined Australian Open tennis players

Sporting News logo Sporting News 1/21/2021

In a bizarre case of sporting worlds colliding, UFC superstar Conor McGregor has delivered a broadside to frustrated tennis players going through quarantine in Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open. 

Over the past week, hundreds of the world's best tennis players began arriving in Melbourne and Adelaide ahead of next month's Australian Open.

More than 70 players and staff are in hard quarantine after 10 people returned positive COVID tests after arriving in Australia.

Some players, including Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut and Kazakhstan's Yulia Putintseva have hit out at the situation, likening the quarantine conditions to prison. 

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In a storyline made possible only under the extreme circumstances of the pandemic over the past 12 months, McGregor - who is preparing to fight Dustin Poirier at UFC 257 on Fight Island this weekend - called on tennis players to "get their act together and be happy you get to compete." 

McGregor has been an active voice in the fight against COVID, urging his millions of fans to wear masks and practice social distancing. 

In March last year, the 32-year-old donated €1 million worth of medical supplies and protective equipment to hospitals in the worst-hit regions of Ireland. 

In an interview on The Project on Wednesday night, the former featherweight and lightweight UFC champion delivered a broadside to those tennis players complaining about quarantine. 

"I'm actually surprised to hear that the tennis players are kicking up. We've gotta correct ourselves, there's a lot going on and a lot at risk," McGregor said. 

"It's everyone's duty on this earth to do what they can. To get to compete in a such a prestigious tennis tournament - or any tournament - a two-week lockdown prior, you should welcome it with open arms. I know I would.

"I'm eager to compete and perform for my fans. I want to give entertainment to people around the world who are going through so much. 

"I would urge the tennis players to get their act together, relish and embrace that you get to compete. 

"People can't even go to work. Children can't even go to school. And professional athletes are complaining about a little bit of isolation. Come on, guys." 

With more than 50 million followers across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, McGregor has the biggest platforms in combat sport and hasn't been afraid to use it. 

"I know I have a voice and a reach and some people would listen to me, and I wanted to get my point across that we've all got to do our part here," he said. 

"I helped with the PPE, medical equipment and machinery also. I've done everything I could, but right now, we're still back in the mix of it. 

"It's coming back again. We've gotta recalibrate, readjust. I will continue doing what I've been urging all this time and that's just to do your part and keep your distance.

"Stay the course and we'll get through this." 

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